Sunday, 20 November 2011

Back to Tacugama...

For the second time this Field Service I found myself, with a few close friends, headed out overnight to Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary this last weekend. It's no small wonder, since it is definitely my favourite place in Sierra Leone. This is how our lovely weekend unfolded.

We departed the ship at 9am on Saturday morning and arrived too early to check-in for our lodge. So while they prepared the lodge, we decided to walk to Charlotte Falls, about a 90-minute trek away. We walked through the small village of Bathurst, passing the quaint church of St Peters and St James Parish, founded in 1816, on our way to the Falls. The waterfall itself was beautiful, with crystal clear water cascading over the rocks. There was a small pool near the bottom of the falls, where we waded and enjoyed the serenity of the Sierra Leone countryside.

We returned to the Chimpanzee Sanctuary a little after 3pm and checked-in to our Eco-Lodge, Christo. The rest of the afternoon we spent relaxing, reading and napping in the comfortable surroundings, as all around us the birds chirped and the cries of the chimpanzees resonated through the jungle. Supper comprised of spaghetti followed by s'mores roasted by candlelight. It was the perfect end to a great day.

During the night we awoke to the sounds of thunder and the bright flashes of lightning as a storm moved through the night sky. Hard rain pounded the roof and for several minutes sleep was evasive. But soon the rain died away and all was silent, apart from the noise of the jungle insects outside. It is strange to be only an hour outside of the city and yet hear nothing of the city itself. All you can hear are insects, animals and birds. It is so peaceful here.

Sunday morning came and we were brought a lovely traditional breakfast, including grapefruit, bananas, oranges, eggs, bread and butter with jam or cheese. We then had a guided tour of the Sanctuary and it was lovely to see the work they do in rehabilitating the chimpanzees. Most of these chimps had parents who were killed for bushmeat, and the babies were raised as pets in the city. Tacugama rescues these chimps and rehabilitates them for their release into the wild.

After our tour we checked-out and walked down to the Congo Dam, and then headed down to the main road where our driver picked us up. Shortly we were speeding back through the city streets of Freetown, and were dropped outside the port gate near the Africa Mercy. It was a lovely weekend that left the four of us refreshed and ready for the final few weeks here in Sierra Leone.

Tacugama do a wonderful work with Sierra Leone's chimpanzees. Check out their website here. Here are some more photos from our weekend away.

You have entered the Western Area Forest Reserve!

The West African jungle is simply beautiful!

Phil and I survey the scenery from the Falls.

Candace and I.

Christo Eco-Lodge.

S'mores by candlelight.

Clinging on tight!

This plant closes its leaves if you touch them - a defence-mechanism.

Another pretty flower - reminds me of a Red Hot Poker back home but on a smaller scale.

Congo Dam.

No comments: